Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) loved when Ma Ma (Ruthie Ann Miles) would undrape her hand-painted scarf and use it, as one might a cinema screen, to enrapture her young daughter with the ancient legend of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon, and her odyssey to be reunited with her soul mate, Houyi. Better hours spent spinning yarns with Fei Fei, Ma Ma, and Ba Ba (John Cho) in preparation for the annual Moon Festival than another minute in the presence of the cuddly downer clan in Minari. Alas, in the tradition of Disney, Ma Ma doesn’t make it past the 8-minute mark, and her death leaves Fei Fei quite literally mooning about all day, devising ways to reunite mythical mother figure Chang’e with the man of her dreams. Four years later, Fei Fei learns of her father’s intention to remarry from Chin, her obnoxious future step-brother. Using the brains God gave her, Fei Fei builds a rabbit-shaped rocket to the moon patterned after her pet bunny Bungee, a departing gift of sorts from Ma Ma. Better to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars than crash-land on this looney lunar surface. When Ma Ma referred to Chang’e as “beautiful and kind,” she was only half-right. Beyond the physical elegance lurks a vainglorious mother-substitute cum pop diva whose main contribution, other than demanding that Fei Fei makes good on the gift she promised, are her contributions to the instantly unmemorable score. The color design calls to mind a bag of regurgitated Skittles. Up close, Chang’e’s computer generated minions look like refugees from a Cricket Wireless commercial, while long shots at her concert suggest an audience of Dippin’ Dots. Visual references to Disneyland and direct lifts from Angry Birds indicate that any forms of satire that once existed were pretty much shouted down by committee. (2020) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.